Virginia schools and universities release updated COVID-19 guidelines, relaxing quarantine and masking policies


New CDC advice no longer recommends that people exposed to COVID-19 be quarantined at home, as long as they are asymptomatic and test negative. Virginia public schools and universities recently released their own recommendations for students and teachers; they too relax several precautions.

Last month, before the CDC updated its policies, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) released new guidelines for children in public schools and daycares. One of the biggest changes this school year is that students will no longer need to quarantine at home if they have been exposed to someone who tests positive, as long as they do not present no symptoms of COVID-19. The guidelines, which were written in conjunction with the governor’s office and the state Department of Education, say masking is permitted, but not required, in Virginia public schools.

If a student is exposed to someone with COVID, a school may offer them a rapid test, if one is available. If a student tests positive, they can return to school five days after developing symptoms. The VDH asks these students to either wear a mask or take a COVID test with a negative result, before returning to school.

Virginia universities also released their own guidelines this week. Both Radford University and Virginia Tech no longer provide accommodation for students who must self-isolate after testing positive. Students will need to make their own arrangements with roommates or family members if they test positive or develop symptoms.

The two universities, as well as the University of Virginia and Sage UVAstrongly recommends, but does not require, that all students and staff be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19.

Masks are not required in most university settings. At health and wellness centers on all campuses, students and staff are asked to wear a mask.

These updated policies in schools across the state are similar to guidelines released Thursday by the CDC. The agency said one of the main reasons they are relaxing the guidance is because more Americans have developed immunity.

The agency said communities may need to review their safety measures in the event of an outbreak or if hospitalization rates for people with COVID-19 increase.

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